Sunday, December 14, 2008

Parklife...?



PARKLIFE

“Parklife: the music is good, but the drugs are GREAT,” was the most accurate thing I heard all day while strolling around Botanic Park for Australia’s mid-spring dance festival, Parklife.

It was Adelaide’s turn for the national dance festival this weekend, and with a sore lack of Goldfrapp on the bill, it was interesting to see how Botanic Park’s hospitality would pan out. Yet with a beautiful 29 degree day to work with, and a blinding sea of orange legs already piling in through the gates, things were looking up. Needless to say, whatever the turnout was - I was going to have a good time. I had spent hours toiling over four fucking metres of green tulle, and my hands were suitably pocked and bloody from sewing needles and I was going to party the shit out of this fairy outfit whether I wanted to or not.



With my two fellow Parklife fairies, Reezor and Eleazor, we strode in ready to unleash the carnage..

Early in the day at the Water Stage we had local indie/rock outfit The Touch. As the festival had really just started, most people were still relaxing under trees lining their guts with $10 cans of Smirnoff (I do not jest, $10 a can – effing robbery!) rather than dancing about. Yet the quintet had still managed to amass a decent crowd, complete with a handful of devoted fan girls with “The Touch” lovingly branded on their butt cheeks. Aw, what ......support? Things took an interesting turn mid-set, when one of the giant stage sheets came loose in the wind and fell on top of their drummer. Oh, how I love chaos..


Next up was US duo Neon Neon. Equipped with mini electric guitars and two highly conspicuous vocalists, their set of Summer-infused electro pop was so perfect for the Parklife formulaic it’s a shame they didn’t have a bigger crowd. Perhaps this was because everyone was over at the Air Stage going nuts over Grafton Primary’s I Can Cook. Grafton Primary may have lacked the charisma to rival Neon Neon, but what they did have under their belts to unleash on the crowd was Joshua Garden – their Star-Wars-nerd-on-ecstasy resembling front man adorned in a sparkly gold hat.

Ah yes, such spectacles as these only truly make sense, and are appreciated, at dance festivals. I think I even heard some drunk bitches to the left of me croon how "hot" he was. Well hey, if skeletal runts float your boat when you're pinging on a cocktail of pills, woooohoooo. We make the walk over to the Earth stage to check out the last few minutes of Slyde, but there’s no-one really here apart from a few punters snoozing on the lawn and a man wearing a Barney the Dinosaur cape with a joint stapled to it. Ahem. After some subtle sabotage (in which Eleanor tore off a corner), we moved on, only to then be cornered by more freaks who wanted to take photos of us with their phones. We stole ciggarettes from them and ran away.



On the other side of the park, electro/new wavers Ladytron were setting up. This group had been gathering some of the biggest hype of the day, and now had the crowd size to match it. Yet in spite of expectations, Ladytron turned out to be a very disappointing live act. ?" The climate may have been to too hot for Scottish vocalist Helen Marnie, as she just looked miserable on stage. It took a lot for me not to tell at her to "cheer the fuck up". Perhaps her performance can be blamed on the horrendous sound engineering they received. The sound quality had been unsavoury all day, but this group suffered more than anyone. The guitars were too distorted, the poor girls were barely audible and their charming Scottish drawl was like a distant white noise amongst the boom of the speakers. Still, they drew one of the most impressive crowds of the afternoon, and Ghosts was a highlight.

It was at this point of the day that the atmosphere grew in a couple of notches in weird. Maybe it was because the drugs were kicking in, or maybe it was because everyone had been in the sun for five hours and now had heatstroke – either way I was in no way prepared for a raver approaching me and asking; “Can you imagine life without kneecaps?” and then insisting on writing a rice recipe in my notepad. I took this as a signal to drink more, so at once beelined to the soft, cushiony safety of the bar. Ahhhh, bar.. you scary pillheads can't hurt me here...



It was now dusk, the perfect ambience for mashup pop veterans Soulwax. Fronted by Belgium brothers David and Stephen Dewaele, the two disc jockey’s otherwise known for their work in 2 Many DJ’s, Soulwax is a group certainly acquainted with the motions of performing at festivals. As the sun slowly crept away, the steadily mounting crowd was fed with tracks like E-talking and NY Excuse.

Night had set in – now it was time for the fun to begin. People had de-spectacled, diluted pupils were fully exposed and a tense anticipation was aloft. To be blunt, everyone was fucked. And what better way to kick things off than with electro clash extraordinaire Peaches at the Water Stage.After trying to use my media pass to get into the barrier next to the stage, and failing (so what if I had two drinks in my hand? SO WHAT?", with my tail between my legs I walked over with the rest of the cretins.

After a slightly embarrassing introduction, where the MC encouraged the audience a few too many times to give Peaches the welcoming fanfare she deserved, she finally pranced onto the stage. With her band dressed in mirror ball jumpsuits and the leading lady herself in what appeared to be a giant yellow loofah, she was by far most aesthetically impressive artist for the day.

Clambering onto amps, crowd-surfing and seducing punters beneath her with her microphone groans, all who were witnesses to this set definitely got their serving of ‘the teaches of Peaches’.

“This one’s for the ladies!” she screamed, launching into Shake Yer Dix and provoking chest shimmies everywhere. Performing a set of most of 2003’s FatherFucker, no hit song was left untouched. Even Kick It was duly included, her famed duet with Iggy Pop with Peaches’ keyboardist filling the role of Iggy’s vocals. He wasn’t too bad either, as everyone went crazy for this one before busting a move to set finale Fuck the Pain Away. Perhaps the definitive point of the show was Peaches announcing mid-set; “I don’t need your lights, I’ve got my own!” and hitching up her skirt to reveal a conveniently placed light in her crotch.

Ah, gotta’ love her guts.

The buzz was now overwhelming, and everyone was ready for Dizzee Rascal. It felt like every single bloody person in the festival rushed over to the Earth Stage, as the crowd was so dense within minutes it’s impossible to get in. “What’s my name, what’s my naaaaaame?” Dizzee asks the crowd, before launching into He’s Just A Rascal's drill sergeant chant. With his set backed by a wide screen of his video clips, I couldn’t help but feel that this was pretty lazy effort in terms of backdrop. Still, when the ever-so-infectious Calvin Harris duet Dance Wiv Me came on at the end, the crowd transformed into a giant, heaving mass of movement. Not particularly wanting to leave the festival covered in a thick slime of mosh pit sweat, I decided to watch from the lawn.






With the festival done and dusted, everyone filed out either to party some more, or home to nurse their dirt-caked feet to wait til next year.

I myself went home at watched Rage drunk off my ass.

Woo.

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